Today’s guest post is by Wendy Lynne, director of The Mental Toughness Academy, where kids in sports are taught how to develop the mindset to succeed in sports.
We all want what is best for our kids, myself included. However most of us base what is “good for them” on what we think and feel. Essentially, we decide what is “good” based on our perception of the world and how events affected us growing up.
Turns out though, that most of the time our children do not perceive their life and what happens in it, the same way we do. Why? Because not only are they very different people, but they have had very different personalities, temperaments and life experiences than we had.
For instance, you may have always gotten very upset and frustrated playing sports when you were a child, whenever you missed hitting the ball. Your child, on the other hand, may just enjoy being out there with their friends and let missing the ball roll off their back easily.
It is very important for parents to learn not to project their childhood experiences and hurts onto their children.
You may have grown up having experienced rejection, failure or not feeling good enough. Many times those feelings get buried in our unconscious and only get triggered by an event or action that brings up those feelings again.
Parents may assume that their children will perceive slights or adversity just like they did and rush in too fast to protect and intervene for them.
Kids in sports: one child’s story
It would be wise for parents to try and take a neutral stance at first and just gather information and then respond based on what you learn from the child. You may be totally surprised like one of the parents in our Mental Toughness Academy community. I think you will learn a lot from her story…
Sally loved playing soccer and seemed to get along well with all the girls on her team, according to her mother.
One afternoon, her mother watched as many of Sally’s teammates all jumped into one of the other mother’s car after the game ended. She found out from one of the other moms that one of the girls on the team was having a slumber party and they were all headed to her house.
Sally’s mom was a wreck all the rest of the day imagining how upset Sally must be feeling because she was being left out.
For hours, she felt so bad for her daughter and kept peaking at her throughout the afternoon to see how she was handling it. Mom finally had to say something to her.
Turns out, Sally was not upset at all about not being invited.
She said to her mom, “Why would I care about not being invited to the party? I don’t like her and her mother only invited my friends because she wants her daughter to be invited to their parties.
Turns out it was the mother’s “being left out” issues, not her daughter’s.
Now, of course, if Sally had been upset or hurt it would have been important for her mother to listen and let her know how sorry she is that her daughter is feeling hurt. Period.
I would suggest not making it worse by suggesting retaliatory actions or threatening to call the mom. Just show your support by being there to listen.
Remember you are not your child. Treat them as if they were their own person with their own feelings, thoughts and beliefs. This will help you strike the right balance between guiding and supporting so your child learns resiliency.
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